The hidden impact of the steroid policy

By now, it’s no secret that Major League Baseball and the Players Association has beefed up baseball’s drug-testing program. On the heels of the BALCO scandal and calls from prominent politicians, baseball’s new policy is a major step in the right direction. While some people still believe that the policy is lacking in regards to the issue of amphetamine use, one facet of this new agreement should be highly effectively in curbing drug use in the clubhouse.

Under the terms of the old agreement — the one without any teeth — players received the proverbial slap on the wrist albeit an anonymous one. First-time offenders were given drug counseling. That’s it. No public shaming. No suspension. Just counseling. Repeat offenders were suspended, and a fifth-time offender would receive a year off from the game.

It’s been said to death over the past couple of years, but this was not a policy designed to lend faith to the institution. While the penalties were far from harsh, the policy called for just one test a year. The incentive to stop steroid use just wasn’t there; as long as a player was clean for that one test, it wouldn’t matter what they did the rest of the time. As the BALCO case exploded this winter, and Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds became the poster children for steroid use in the Major Leagues, MLB and the Players’ Association knew they had to come up with a new agreement, one with more bite. They unveiled this new deal on Thursday.

Under the terms of the latest agreement — which is to be in place until 2008, well past the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement — first-time offenders will receive a suspension of 10 games. Second-time offenders get a 30-day vacation, third-timers get 60 days, and four-time repeat users who get caught get one year. If a player gets nabbed five times, his fate is left in the hands of Commissioner Bud Selig, and it’s doubtful that Bud would be lenient.

Another big improvement in the new policy is the frequency of the tests. As ESPN reported on Thursday, “Players will be randomly selected for additional tests, with no limit on the number, and for the first time will be subject to random tests during the offseason.? This new stipulation gives the drug policy much more weight. Players will have to clean up their acts year-round because a test could come at any day or even on consecutive days. They will be at the whim of the randomly-generated number system MLB will have in place for the start of the season.

Finally, Major League Baseball has done something positive to address a problem with the game. They’ve put in place a drug-testing program that should discourage the players. In my opinion, this program will work because of the public stigma associated with steroid use. As Jayson Stark wrote yesterday: “The worst part of testing positive would be getting that label Steroid User stamped on your forehead. That’s a scarlet letter that these players would have to wear for the rest of their lives. If you don’t believe their reputations will be tainted forever, just ask Jason Giambi—if you can find him. For a high-profile player, that means not just a life sentence of boos and insults. It means having everything he ever accomplished thoroughly discredited.?

Now, under the new deal, players’ offenses will be a matter of public record from the first time on through their lifetime ban, if that’s the punishment Selig chooses. While some commentators feel that fans will react to what the players do on the field only, I think the fans will not forgive their favorite, or former favorite, players for cheating. Not only with the fans be unforgiving, but the suspensions will forever tarnish the reputation that player. Players who may have been idolized by youngsters will instead become the symbols of cheating in the game. Star players will become outcasts. In addition to an institutionalized punishment system, players will now be subjected to judgment by the media and the fans, and those two groups are among the first to point fingers and the last to forgive and forget.

Despite these strides, however, I still am a favor of a stricter testing policy. A few weeks ago, on my blog, I wrote about how taking steroids is just as bad, if not worse, than betting on baseball games. It’s illegal, and it’s cheating. Players should not get second chances, let alone a fourth or fifth chance. If a player gets caught once, his reputation is in tatters, but he still gets to play the game. If a player is caught betting on baseball, he gets suspended for life even if he’s betting for his own team to win. If the point of these rules is for baseball to set a moral example, than the penalty for first-time offenders in both cases should be the same. Those who cheat should not be allowed to play the game.

I will applaud Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association for addressing this problem in the span of about six weeks since the BALCO story broke. But this should not be the end of it. Baseball should seriously consider banning amphetamines, and those running the game and the union should be willing to accept harsher penalties for steroid users. Baseball is, after all, America’s game, and baseball should be teaching Americans that cheating gets you no where.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • The case for trading Brett Gardner to make room for Darvish January 22, 2018
    The other day, Steven wrote about the rationale of trading David Robertson to clear some salary room to fit Yu Darvish’s hypothetical contract under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Today, I’m here to make a case for trading away another established veteran player with a +$10M salary: Brett Gardner. We’ve talked about the Yankees’ […] The post The case […]
    Sung-Min Kim
  • Sorting out the Yankees’ potential non-roster Spring Training invitees for 2018 January 22, 2018
    Pitchers and catchers report to Tampa three weeks from tomorrow, and at some point soon, likely within the next two weeks, the Yankees will announce their 2018 Spring Training invitees. These are non-40-man roster players who get a chance to come to big league camp to strut their stuff. Some non-roster invitees are top prospects, […] The post Sorting out the […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Fan Confidence Poll: January 22nd, 2018 January 22, 2018
    2017 Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE 2017 Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS Top stories from last week: There continue to be rumors connecting the Yankees to Yu Darvish. Unless he signs dirt cheap, there’s no way […] The post Fan Confidence Poll: January 22nd, 2018 a […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Weekend Open Thread January 21, 2018
    ?I finally had a chance to read Kiley McDaniel’s piece on the stats vs. scouts debate, which really isn’t a debate anymore. Every team uses both. There are a few clubs that lean analytical — from what I understand, the Rays use algorithms for basically everything, including the draft — but the very best organizations […] The post Weekend Open Thread appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Sunday Thoughts: Infield, Sonny Gray, Pitch Clock, Luxury Tax January 21, 2018
    In waiting for baseball to begin again, I find myself asking “When will then be now?” Regardless of the actual time between the end of one season and the beginning of a new one, it seems to feel longer each year. Perhaps that’s especially true this year as my non-baseball diversions–college basketball and the New York Giants–have […] The post Sunday Thoughts […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Saturday Links: Pitch Clock, Martinez, Betances, Sanchez January 20, 2018
    Only four more Saturdays without baseball. Pretty cool. The Grapefruit League is about a month away. Anyway, here’s some news and notes on this baseball-less Saturday. MLBPA paving the way for pitch clock According to Ken Rosenthal, the MLBPA has formally rejected commissioner Rob Manfred’s latest pace-of-play proposal. That paves the way for MLB to […] The […]
    Mike Axisa
  • River Avenue Blues Podcast, Episode 19 January 19, 2018
    As promised, we’re answering your questions this week. Keep them coming, both to the voicemail and the email. The usual notes: You can subscribe basically anywhere at this point, so hooray for that. Some links of note: Apple Podcasts/iTunes Android Overcast Stitcher You can call our voicemail at 716-393-5330 to leave us questions for future […] The post Rive […]
    Joe Pawlikowski
  • RAB Live Chat January 19, 2018
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • Prospect Profile: Freicer Perez January 19, 2018
    Freicer Perez | RHP Background Freicer Perez was signed by the Yankees for the bargain basement price of $10,000 back in 2014. A native of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, the second-largest city in the country, Perez was a relative unknown in that year’s international free agent class, and was little more than a […] The post Prospect Profile: […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Mailbag: Shaw, Hicks, Judge, Torres, Lynn, Coaching Staff January 19, 2018
    Ten questions in this week’s mailbag. The first Grapefruit League game is four weeks from today, you know. Baseball is getting closer. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the email address. Many asked: What about Travis Shaw? A few days ago Jim Bowden reported the Brewers may sign Mike Moustakas and trade Shaw, and […] The post Mailbag: Shaw, Hicks, J […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 62,642 hits

%d bloggers like this: